A fail-safe device is one that is capable of compensating automatically and safely for a system failure. A common example is traffic lights. Traffic lights have a controller known as a conflict monitor unit to detect faults or conflicting signals. When conflicting signals are detected the fail-safe unit switches all the lights at an intersection to flashing red. The traffic signal may fail, but the intersection will be “safe” in that all traffic will be required to stop, thus avoiding dangerous collisions.
Many other potentially dangerous situations are averted by fail-safe designs. Lawnmowers and slow blowers will automatically shut down when the pressure lever is disengaged. Elevators have a system to stop the cabin from free-falling if the cables fail. Computers are designed to shut down if the CPU overheats. The most common fail-safe device in our homes would be the circuit breaker that interrupts electrical power to a circuit when too much current is detected.
It is important to raise our children to be fail-safe, to be safe in their failing. Children gripped in the fear of failing or disappointing their parents become frozen in inaction. Or may try to hide their mistakes to escape the consequences of failure. When children are taught to avoid failure at all costs they do not receive the beneficial instruction that learning from their mistakes can provide. Children do best when we build into them a fail-safe mentality that allows them to risk, without the fear that they will be harmed should they fail.
October 30, 2012, Men’s Network Newsletter, Luther Hour Ministries